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To be is to be perceived Discuss

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Introduction

?To be is to be perceived? Discuss The title of the essay is a view taken by Idealists, essentially saying that to exist, you need to be perceived. Idealism is the view that what is real depends upon the mind, and in the philosophy of perception it makes the claim that the material world does not exist outside of the mind. According to the idealist Berkeley, all that exists are minds, the ideas present in those minds, sensations and thoughts. One thing we can definitely be sure of knowing is that we have a mind, and with it we perceive various colors and shapes. For idealists however, to suppose that there is a material world that is the cause of these sensations, would be a leap of faith that they believe is not necessary to make. There are a few advantages to idealism, including the fact that it faces no linking problem, unlike representative realists and how it overcomes the problem of material substance. However, there are also many problems to idealism as well; including the problem of unperceived objects, as well as hallucinations and illusions. The philosophy of idealism was founded by Bishop George Berkeley. ...read more.

Middle

The properties of the object are ?held together? by its material substance ? matter. It is due to physical objects having substance, that they can exist unperceived. When I looks at a table, the only thing I see are its qualities e.g. its shape, colour, size etc. However, if I took each of these qualities away, one by one, then there would be nothing left to see. Hence what is the point of suggesting a ?material substance?; that binds all the qualities of a physical object, if it possibly doesn?t even exist anyway once you remove all the qualities? Locke saw the point, and accepted that material substance was unknowable. On the other hand, Berkeley?s idealism solves the need for talking about the material substance of physical objects: because for him they are nothing more than the ideas we perceive, existing together as a bundle. For example when we see a table, we just perceive a bundle of qualities e.g. shape, colour, size etc, rather than an actual physical object. He objected that realists didn?t really know what they were talking about, or even if they were talking sense, in talking about a material substance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Berkeley response to this criticism is that our sense data are caused by God, and he perceives all, so even when we don?t perceive the cat, it continues to exists because God still perceives it. But this response then seems to imply that God perceives things in the same way as we do, which seems very unlikely. Also, ordinary objects change and go out of existence, so they cannot be ideas in a mind that is unchanging and eternal. If they were, then this would cause problems immutability. In addition to this, the whole response itself brings up the massive debate of God?s existence anyway, making it even weaker. In conclusion, the weakness to Berkeley?s ?esse est percipi? (to be is to be perceived) - outweigh the strengths. There are indeed a few strengths to idealism, such as it being able to overcome the linking problem, which is a major challenge to realism, and also the problem of material substance, since idealists believe that there is nothing behind the sense-data we perceive. However there are quite a few strong arguments against idealism as well, such as the problem of illusions, where idealists face the problem of being unable to differentiate between veridical perception and illusions. Finally, there are simpler, more systematic alternatives for explaining sense data which appeals to basic common sense. ...read more.

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